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Week 3 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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It's the second week of the season and you're likely recognizing the identity of your team. Are you destined to make a season-long comeback because you went heavy on Rangers players like yours truly? Or are you riding high because you loaded up on the right mix of sleepers and prospects like Lars Eller, Tomas Hertl and Sean Monahan? Regardless of your place in the standings right now, it's the newly aligned NHL and the most subtle of schedule trends can send you spiraling or soaring in one night.

NHL schedule

Three of a Kind

High Percentage Teams (weaker schedules)

The Isles (BUF, EDM, CAR) are as solid as anyone heading into this week's schedule when they play three opponents sporting a combined record of 3-8-3 headed into Saturday's (10/12/13) action. In addition to John Tavares (DDS), Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey look to keep the party moving all the way to Brooklyn.

Colorado (DAL, DET, @BUF) faces a schedule of teams (4-7-1) that are getting outscored 31 to 21 so far. Adding to that contrast, Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere have given up a total of three goals in four games this season.

Washington (EDM, NYR, CLS) and Montreal (at WPG, CLS, NAS) play a combined five of six from home against extremely under-performing teams as well.

In the meantime, you may want to avoid ...

Low Percentage Teams (tougher schedules)

Considering Jacob Markstrom's inability to put it altogether, that fuzzy feeling you had about Florida (at NAS, BOS, MIN) has likely died down with the news about Tim Thomas. No surprise they're getting outscored 21-13 in the early going.

At first glance, San Jose (at STL, at DAL, CAL) looks to be a good bet to stay hot this week. Look again and you'll see they travel for two of three, one of which will be the almost as hot Blues. Dallas' play has been unstable and Calgary's bottom could fall out, but something tells us Hertl and the Sharks will come back down to earth this week.

Don't misinterpret Carolina's (CHI, at TOR, at NYI) 2-1-2 record as well. Although Anton Khudobin (2-0, 1.50 GAA) has been quite stellar in his limited logged time, number one Cam Ward (0-1-2, 2.87 GAA) has been pedestrian at best. If Ward gets the nod for at least two of these starts, look out, Carolina could go from second in the Metropolitan to keeping the Flyers and Rangers company at the bottom.

Speaking of which ...

One Pair

Not only is their schedule almost exclusive to teams playing solid hockey, but players from New Jersey (at OTT, NYR), the Rangers (at WAS, at NJ), Philadelphia (VAN, PIT) and Calgary (at ANH, at SJ) will play just two games this week. Could this be the Sean Monahan train back to juniors? As old fashioned as we can be, we just can't seem them doing so, regardless of how the Flames play this week. Four games left and the clock is ticking.

Other pairs to consider:

Back-to-Back Jacks

In addition to all of the Four Aces (see below) playing on back-to-back nights once this week, these two teams are playing two of their three games on consecutive nights.

Thomas Greiss, G, Phoenix (OTT, at ANH, DET): For those (owned by 8% of CBS) considering picking up Greiss, you may hesitate when you see his opponent will either be the Ducks or Red Wings. As for Mike Smith's career numbers, in 13 games played against Anaheim, Smith is 8-3-1 (2.74 GAA), while in nine games played against Detroit Smith is 2-5-2 with 2.60 GAA.

Brian Elliott, G, St. Louis (SJ, at CHI, at WPG): Elliott had yet to appear in a game heading into Saturday's match-up with the Rangers. Head coach Ken Hitchcock is likely to give Elliott the nod against the weaker Jets and the white hot Jaroslav Halak against the cup champs, Chicago.

Four Aces

Raise (weaker schedules)

Detroit (at BOS, CLS, at COL, at PHX), Nashville (FLA, LA, at MON, WPG) and Vancouver (at PHI, at BUF, at PIT, at CLS) all play favorable four game schedules.

Daniel Alfredsson has 26 goals, 43 assists in 87 career games versus the B's. Alfredsson was kept quiet in last week's 4-1 loss in Boston, perhaps the second time in a week is the charm for the veteran Northeast rival.

Stephen Weiss has seven goals and five assists in 10 career games against the Avs.

There's always good old Pavel Datsyuk (goal, assist in four games), who has 173 points in 149 career games against this week's opponents.

One thing we love about Detroit's week is Jimmy Howard's career record (28-8-5, 2.23 GAA, 2 SO) against this week's opponents. How about even better news for Howard owners? He'll likely get three starts this week. Despite Jonas Gustavsson's fairly impressive career GAA (2.48) versus Boston, he's likely to draw the weaker Columbus team on Tuesday.

Fold (tougher schedules)

Minnesota (at BUF, at TOR, at TB, at FLA), Buffalo (MIN, at NYI, VAN, COL), Edmonton (at WAS, at PIT, at NYI, at OTT), Columbus (at DET, at MON, at WAS, VAN) and Dallas (at COL, SJ, at LA, at ANH) have busy but sketchy games likely to leave a negative impact on your week.

It's the regular season, so of course Niklas Backstrom (lower-body) is fighting a day-to-day injury. While Josh Harding has been solid in his two games since the Backstrom injury, his career record (19-42-6, 2.97 GAA) on the road is ugly, regardless of what team's he'll be facing this week. We'll leave this one up to you.

Offensively (9/11 GF/GA), things just are not panning out for the Wild, who have a four man log jam for scoring leader with three points, including Matt Cooke and Mikael Granlund. Perhaps Zach Parise's (three goals) Eastern Conference cred is still good, but we somehow doubt it.

It should be a telling week for Jonas Brodin (two goals, one assist), who will play in four arenas that he's stepped foot in.

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Player News
Steve Downie
Flyers' Downie Day-To-Day
Steve Downie, RW, PHI
12:56 AM
News: Steve Downie is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Analysis: After not taking the ice Tuesday, Steve Downie is decidedly iffy for Thursday's playoff opener against the Rangers.

Brandon Prust
Habs' Prust A Game-Time Decision For Wednesday
Brandon Prust, RW, MON
12:55 AM
News: Brandon Prust (upper body) will be a game-time decision for Game 1 of the Habs' playoff series with the Lightning beginning Wednesday, Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette reports.
Analysis: Brandon Prust was able to take part in Tuesday's practice and skated on a regular line, but it's unclear if he's fully recovered from injury quite yet after missing the final 12 games of the regular season. The team could make a decision on Prust's status for Game 1 at the conclusion of Wednesday's morning skate.

Matt Duchene
Avs' Duchene Still Sidelined
Matt Duchene, C, COL
12:51 AM
News: Matt Duchene (knee) did not skate Tuesday, the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: The report notes that Matt Duchene is not expected to play in the first two games of the Avs' upcoming series against the Wild (which opens Thursday), at a minimum.

Travis Moen
Habs' Moen Takes Part In No-Contact Practice
Travis Moen, LW, MON
12:49 AM
News: Travis Moen (concussion) joined the Canadiens for a non-contact practice Tuesday, Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette reports.
Analysis: Though Travis Moen will travel to Tampa for the team's first-round playoff series, he's seemingly unavailable for at least Game 1 after skating on the Habs' fifth line at Tuesday's session. He'll need to get some full-contact work before coach Michel Therrien considers using him in his postseason lineup.

Kris Letang
Pens' Letang On Top Power Play
Kris Letang, D, PIT
12:48 AM
News: Kris Letang practiced at the left point of Pittsburgh's top power-play unit Tuesday, the Penguins' website reports.
Analysis: Kris Letang will serve as the lone defender on the No. 1 uit, with the right point being manned by Evgeni Malkin. Paul Martin has played well on the team's top unit, so placing Letang there over Martin means the team has confidence the stroke survivor is operating at 100 percent capacity.

Tyson Strachan
Caps Reassign Strachan
Tyson Strachan, D, WAS
12:46 AM
News: Tyson Strachan was reassigned to AHL Hershey on Tuesday.
Analysis: With the Capitals' season now completed, Tyson Strachan will head back to the minors to get some action before the AHL schedule comes to a close. Strachan supplied two assists and 28 penalty minutes over his 18 games with the Capitals this season.

Matt Niskanen
Pens' Niskanen Out Of Top Four Tuesday
Matt Niskanen, D, PIT
12:41 AM
News: Matt Niskanen skated on Pittsburgh's third-group pairing with Olli Maatta on Tuesday and manned the left point of the team's second power-play unit, the Penguins' website reports.
Analysis: The return of Kris Letang and Paul Martin to the lineup don't do much to help Matt Niskanen and could, in fact, reduce his playing time and fantasy production. The right-handed shooting defender set a number of career marks in 2013-14, but he might have to wait for injuries to strike before taking a more prominent spot on the blue line.

Jan Hejda
Ducks' Hejda Day-To-Day
Jan Hejda, D, COL
12:36 AM
News: Jan Hejda (upper body) is day-to-day, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: More on Jan Hejda's status Wednesday, but coach Patrick Roy noted Tuesday that he expects the blueliner to be ready for the team's series against the Wild, which opens on Thursday.

Jeff Zatkoff
Zatkoff Set To Serve As Pens' Postseason Backup
Jeff Zatkoff, G, PIT
12:34 AM
News: Jeff Zatkoff will serve as Pittsburgh's backup goalie in the playoffs, the Penguins' website reports.
Analysis: Pens coach Dan Bylsma said that, while Tomas Vokoun will work with the team, Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff would get the bulk of practice time.

Tomas Vokoun
Bylsma Declares Jeff Zatkoff Pens' Backup Goalie
Tomas Vokoun, G, PIT
12:30 AM
News: Jeff Zatkoff is expected to serve as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup in the playoffs, according to the Penguins' website.
Analysis: Tomas Vokoun will continue to work with the team in practices and optional skates, but the bulk of practice work in the postseason will go to Fleury and Zatkoff. Of course, things have a way of playing out and it wouldn't be surprising to see Vokoun back in the mix at some point.

 
 
 
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